Reporting David Elfin
Don’t lose a lot of sleep over Redskins coach Mike Shanahan picking Rex Grossman over John Beck to start Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants.
As I wrote last Friday, Beck can only blame himself after blowing a golden opportunity to seize the job in the preseason finale while Grossman rested.
Grossman is the safe, conventional choice. He hasway more regular season experience and is better versed in coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense in which he was the backup quarterback the past two seasons.
While I think that Grossman at quarterback means a 6-10 season, Beck offered higher risks and rewards with his mobility and the fact that he hasn’t been given a chance to show what he can do other than four starts for the dreadful Dolphins as a rookie in 2007.
However, Beck’s poor performance last Thursday against Tampa Bay’s second-string defense apparently convinced the Shanahans that making him the starter carried a greater risk of a 3-13 season and less likelihood of the reward of a 9-7 campaign.
So even though there’s no doubt that the Redskins need a major dose of excitement after going 13-20 since midseason 2008, picking Grossman to face the Giants was sensible.
Of course, even with Osi Umenyiora unlikely to play on Sunday as he recovers from a knee scope, the Giants will still come at Grossman with premier pass rushers Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka plus Jason Pierre-Paul, who gave Washington’s blockers fits in the 2010 finale.
So Grossman will be fortunate to make it through 60 minutes against Big Blue’s defense in one piece. The odds of him being physically able to start all 16 games this season are longer than the Redskins’ chances of making the playoffs.
Yes, Jason Campbell started every game at quarterback in Washington in 2008 and 2009 (although he was replaced for the second half of Week 6 in the latter season). But Gus Frerotte (1996) and Brad Johnson (1999) were the Redskins’ only other quarterbacks to survive all 16 games in a season over the last 18 years.
So while Grossman will start Sunday, Beck’s likely to get his chance, sooner rather than later, to join the list of starting quarterbacks that also includes: Mark Rypien, Cary Conklin, Rich Gannon, John Friesz, Heath Shuler, Jeff Hostetler, Trent Green, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel, Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Todd Collins and Donovan McNabb.
Beck will become Washington’s 20th starting quarterback in the last 19 years some time this season. You can count on it.
And ultimately, it really doesn’t matter if it’s Grossman or Beck because neither is going to lead the Redskins to their first Super Bowl in 20 years. The old saw that offense sells tickets but defense wins championships is no longer true. And the NFL is longer about running the ball and stopping the run. It’s a quarterback league and Washington’s don’t measure up to the likes of Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of the new book: “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.